James Dinegar, Chair,joined the Greater Washington Board of Trade as president and chief executive officer in July 2006. As president and CEO, Dinegar oversees an organization that represents major business interests throughout Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and Suburban Maryland. The Board of Trade puts its focus on the critical issues facing the Greater Washington Region: transportation; emergency preparedness and business continuity; green as a competitive advantage; and the workforce in regards to recruiting and retaining highly qualified people The Board of Trade is steadily growing in size and influence as it celebrates its 120th year of existence. Throughout its history, the Board of Trade has been instrumental in creating and protecting the environs of Greater Washington for the population and business.
Before coming to the Board of Trade, Mr. Dinegar served as chief operating officer of the American Institute for Architects (AIA) where he was responsible for the overall operation of a 77,000-member organization and directed strategic efforts in the areas of education, technology, international collaboration, organizational alliances and government advocacy. Mr. Dinegar is a 30-year resident of the Greater Washington region. He is a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and he resides in Arlington, VA.
Susan A. Mars, Vice-Chair, of McLean, Virginia, lived in Singapore and in Belgium before moving to the Washington area. A nurse by training, Ms. Mars' passion revolves around providing opportunity for disadvantaged children to lead both a productive life and to learn to appreciate and respect their local environment.
While residing in Singapore, she was an active board member of Caring for Cambodia, a non-profit organization focused on improving the lives of children through education and outreach. Ms. Mars served on the board of Insulated Shipping Containers, Inc. from 1990 to 2001 and currently serves on the board of Demios, LLC, a private venture capital firm based in Southern California, whose primary mission is to identify and support early start-up businesses in the areas of health and environmental sciences.
Hal Brierley serves as Executive Chairman and Chief Loyalty Architect of Brierley+Partners, Inc., one of the world's leading specialists in the design and implementation of customer loyalty programs, having founded the company in 1985. B+P's clients include Allstate, American Eagle Outfitters, Express, Fandango, GameStop, Hard Rock Café, Hertz, Hilton, Levi's and 7 Eleven.
Hal has provided loyalty program design counsel to some 200 major global brands over the past twenty five years, including the design for American Express, Continental Airlines' OnePass, Hertz #1Gold and Hilton Honors, as well as a decade of support for United's Mileage Plus.
Hal founded and served as CEO of e-Rewards, Inc., the world's largest online market research panel, with some six million panelists in 36 countries, with annual sales of over $300 million.
He began his entrepreneurial career in 1969 as co-founder of Epsilon Data Management, one of the pioneers in database marketing, serving as its President and CEO for eleven years. Epsilon's early clients included some 400 not-for-profit organizations, including the San Diego Zoo and the National Zoo.
In 1980, Hal served as the only consultant for the launch of American Airlines' AAdvantage program, the nation's first frequent traveler program. In 1982, Hal was elected Vice President of Sales and Advertising for Pan American World Airways, where he launched Worldpass, the first global frequent traveler program. In 1983, he was named Senior Vice President of Marketing for Continental Airlines.
He graduated with highest honors in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1965 and as a Baker Scholar with High Honors from Harvard Business School in 1968.
Hal is involved in a variety of activities, including: the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation -- Member of the Board of Directors since 2000 and member of the Board's Executive Committee and Finance Committee; Dallas Symphony Association; Member of the Board of Marketing Edge; Member of the International Board of Advisors of the National Geographic Society; Member of Board of Directors – Baylor Health Care System Foundation, Dallas Opera, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Foundation, University of Maryland College Park Foundation; Member of Harvard Business School's Board of Dean’s Advisors; Member of the Mayor's Business/Arts Initiative Action Team; and a Member of World Presidents Organization.
Jeffrey D. DeBoer is the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of The Real Estate Roundtable. The Real Estate Roundtable represents the leadership of the nation's top 100 privately owned and publicly held real estate ownership development, lending and management firms as well as the elected leaders of the 16 major national real estate industry trade associations. Collectively, Roundtable members' portfolios contain over 5 billion square feet of office, retail and industrial properties valued at more than $1 trillion; over 1.5 million apartment units; and in excess of 1.3 million hotel rooms. DeBoer has served as President and CEO of The Real Estate Roundtable since 1997, and through a variety of positions has been at the forefront of every major piece of legislation affecting the real estate industry during the last 25 years.
In addition to his position at the Roundtable, DeBoer serves as Chairman of the Real Estate Industry Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RE-ISAC), an organization dedicated to enhancing the two-way communication between the industry and federal policymakers on matters relating to building security, terrorist threats, and incident reporting. He also serves as co-chairman of the Advisory Board of the RAND Corporation's Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy and is chairman of the National Real Estate Organizations, a coalition of real estate trade associations working together to enhance the coordination of the industry's overall Washington advocacy efforts. He is also a founding member of the steering committee of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism (CIAT). DeBoer has discussed real estate and economic policy issues on FOX News, Bloomberg Television and CNBC, and his editorials have been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. He is a member of the Virginia Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
A native of Rapid City, South Dakota, DeBoer earned a law degree from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and an undergraduate degree from Yankton College in Yankton, South Dakota. DeBoer and his wife, Joan, and son, Mitchell, live in Alexandria, Virginia.
Joan Donner (Honorary Member) of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is President of Twende, LTD, a Colorado- and Nairobi-based company that leads and coordinates safaris in Africa. She has been active on a number of boards and committees in the Washington area, including the Smithsonian National Board, National Museum of the American Indian, and the James Smithson Society.
Elliott Ferguson serves as President and CEO of Destination DC, the official convention and tourism corporation for Washington, DC.
A 25-year veteran of the travel and hospitality industry, Ferguson leads Destination DC's efforts to generate economic opportunity for the District through meetings and tourism, overseeing the organization's convention and tourism sales, marketing, finance and business development operations. Ferguson began his tenure with Destination DC in 2001 as Senior Vice President of Convention Sales and Services and has served as President and CEO of Destination DC since 2009. Prior to working at Destination DC he served as Vice President of Sales at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has also served as Director of Sales for both the Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureaus.
Ferguson received a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Business Administration from Savannah State University. His many memberships in the industry include the American Society of Association Executives, Professional Conference Management Association, International Association of Exhibition Executives and Destination Marketing Association International.
Ferguson currently serves on the board of directors for the following organizations: the U.S. Department of Commerce's Travel and Tourism Advisory Board; U.S. Travel Association; Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID); the District of Columbia's Taxicab Commission; DC Jazz Festival; Capital Partners for Education; and the Ryan Kerrigan "Blitz for the Better" Foundation. Ferguson also serves on Brand USA's Marketing Advisory Group; DC Business Coalition and Hospitality Alliance of Washington, DC.
Ferguson is a longtime resident of Capitol Hill, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and is an active mentor with Capital Partners for Education.
Charles Francis, is a public affairs consultant with an interest in environmental and natural history issues and stewardship. Francis is Senior Counselor and founder of the DCI Group, a public affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. representing such clients as AT&T and ExxonMobil Corporation worldwide. Francis began his career in public affairs and corporate communications thirty years ago at the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. At Chase, Francis served as a speechwriter and media relations officer for the Bank and its then chairman David Rockefeller.
Francis is a member of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. Francis serves on the Advisory Board of the Draper Museum of Natural History at the Buffalo Bill. A part-time resident of Homer, Alaska, Francis was appointed in 2010 by the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game to the Community Council of the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve (KBRR). The KBRR is the most remote and largest estuarine region in the United States with some 370,000 acres of bay and watershed under protection.
In Washington, D.C., Francis founded The Kameny Papers Project in 2005, which purchased, conserved and donated the archive and artifacts of gay civil rights pioneer Dr. Franklin E. Kameny to The Library of Congress and The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. Francis worked closely with NMAH Director/curator Harry Rubenstein to donate twelve historic picket signs to the Smithsonian. Francis was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV/AIDS. Francis founded and chaired the Republican Unity Coalition, Honorary chairman Senator (ret.) Alan K. Simpson, with both David Rockefeller and President Gerald R. Ford serving on the RUC Advisory Board.
Born in Dallas, Francis is a member of the Board of Trustees of the W.H. Francis Foundation in Dallas. His grandfather W.H. Francis was the General Counsel of the Magnolia Oil Company in Dallas in 1925. Francis' great uncle Charles I. Francis (Houston) served as Counsel to then Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson and founded the University of Texas Law School Foundation. His uncle W.H. Francis, Jr. was a founder of the Texas state Republican Party. Francis, an Eagle Scout, resides in Washington, D.C. and Homer, Alaska with his partner Stephen Bottum.
David C. Leavy is Chief Communications Officer & Senior Executive Vice President, Corporate Marketing & Affairs at Discovery Communications.
A 15-year Discovery veteran, Leavy manages the company's global corporate communications operations; creative and corporate marketing functions; government relations and public policy; standards and practices; research and consumer insights; talent relations; and the company's nonprofit organization, the Discovery Learning Alliance. Additionally, Leavy leads Discovery's in-house media agency –The Discovery Agency — which offers a 360° suite of services including creative strategy and design, media planning and partnerships, consumer insights and brand activation.
Since joining Discovery, Leavy has overseen communications and strategy for some of the company's most significant initiatives, including the 2008 debut as a publicly traded company, the $1.7B acquisition of SBS Nordic, a European-wide strategic venture with Eurosport and TF1, and the announcements of Discovery's joint ventures with Oprah Winfrey and Hasbro. In addition, he spearheaded the development of the company's 'Discovery Impact' corporate social responsibility programs, which leverage the power of Discovery's brands, businesses and employees to give back to the world through global volunteerism.
Under Leavy's leadership, Discovery's Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs teams have been recognized with a number of awards, including PR Week's 'Large Corporate Communications Team of the Year' and PR News' 'CSR Volunteer Initiative of the Year.' Additionally, The Discovery Agency has won more than 10 In-House Agency Forum awards including, 'Best in Show.'
Prior to joining Discovery, Leavy served as Senior Director of Public Affairs and Chief Spokesman for the National Security Council and Deputy White House Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In that position, Leavy handled all press issues relating to foreign policy and chaired the Interagency Public Affairs Working Group that coordinated the Clinton Administration's long range strategic messaging on international policy. Leavy developed the communications strategies for NATO's military action in Kosovo, the State Visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin, U.S. military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan, as well as the Senate’s ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Leavy previously served as Assistant Press Secretary at the State Department and the White House Press Office. He is a graduate of Colby College and the Salisbury School, where he now serves on the board. Leavy is also a member of the Advisory Board of the National Zoo.
Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy is a University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation, and the former Biodiversity Chair of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. Dr. Lovejoy introduced the term biological diversity to the scientific community in 1980. From 2009-2013, Tom served as Chair of the Scientific Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the multibillion dollar funding mechanism for developing countries in support of their obligations under international environmental conventions and currently serves as a senior advisor. Dr. Lovejoy has been Assistant Secretary and Counselor to the Secretary at the Smithsonian Institution, Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, and Executive Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund–U.S. He conceived the idea for the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems project a joint project between the Smithsonian and Brazil's INPA), originated the concept of debt-for-nature swaps, and is the founder of the public television series Nature. In 2001 he was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and in 2012 received the Blue Planet Prize, which recognizes outstanding efforts in scientific research or applications of science that contribute to solving global environmental problems. Dr. Lovejoy served on science and environmental councils or committees under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. He received his B. S. and Ph.D. (biology) degrees from Yale University.
Angela “Angie” Marriott is a member of the Marriott Family, long-time supporters of Smithsonian's National Zoo. With the Marriott Family's dedication and support, the Zoo has achieved much-needed momentum for its continuing efforts to raise awareness and funding for its work and to maintain its global leadership among zoos. The Marriott's have also introduced the Zoo's work and important initiatives to other animal lovers, conservationists, and local philanthropic leaders. The Marriott Family played a leading role in securing the funding necessary to bring the Giant Pandas back to the Zoo in 2000 with a gift of $1.6 million, as well as a generous $3 million gift to the Elephant Trails exhibit in 2007 allowing critically endangered Asian elephants to flourish in a state-of-the-art habitat.
Angie currently serves as a board member of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Mid-Atlantic chapter, the American Heart Association Women's Board and is a former board member of Best Friends Foundation, and Washington Performing Arts Society.
John W. Marriott III (Honorary Member) is Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Point Ventures, L.P. and JWM Family Enterprises, L.P. He developed and owns 11 hotels managed by Marriott International, and is Vice Chairman of the Board of Marriott International.
Over the past 30 years, Mr. Marriott has served in a number of positions within Marriott International. Most recently, he served as President of North American Lodging, and Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Brand Management, and Operations Planning and Support. His other positions include Senior Vice President for Marriott's Mid-Atlantic Region, Vice President of Development, Director of Finance, General Manager, Director of Food & Beverage, restaurant manager, and cook.
In April 2002, Mr. Marriott, who speaks Japanese, was named by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Japanese government to co-chair a special taskforce to promote travel between the United States and Japan. He was also named one of the most influential executives by Business Travel News in January 2004.
Terry D. McCallister is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of WGL Holdings, Inc., parent company of Washington Gas. He also serves as Chairman and CEO of Washington Gas, the natural gas utility serving over 1,000,000 customers in the Washington metropolitan area and surrounding region.
Prior to his election as Chairman and CEO on October 1, 2009, Mr. McCallister served as President and Chief Operating Officer of WGL Holdings and Washington Gas. He joined Washington Gas in 2000 as Vice President of Gas Transportation.
Mr. McCallister is active in the natural gas industry and the community. He serves on the Board of Directors of the American Gas Association. Additionally, he is currently serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southern Gas Association and is on the Board of the Gas Technology Institute, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Family Services, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the INOVA Health System Foundation.
Mr. McCallister is a graduate of University of Missouri-Rolla where he received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management. He is also a graduate of the Darden Business School Executive Program. He and his wife live in Alexandria, Virginia.
Adrienne B. Mars (Honorary Member) of Jackson, Wyoming has been involved with various environmental organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution.
Since 1974, Ms. Mars has served on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater. She has been a part of the Board of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and the Smithsonian's National Board.
For nearly two decades, Ms. Mars has been active with the World Wildlife Fund, sitting on the Board and the National Council. She is also involved with the Washington Opera's Board. Born in Quincy, Florida, Ms. Mars earned her bachelor’s degree in economics and history from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.
Ziad S. Ojakli is a Ford Motor Company group vice president of Government and Community Relations.
Ojakli leads a team that helps shape policy and legislation that promote the company's core business objectives including areas of energy and the environment, tax, international trade, driver safety, and improvements in the nation's health care systems.
As head of Ford's global government relations, Ojakli oversees interactions with governments in 110 markets around the world where Ford does business. He is also responsible for Ford's federal and state government relations in the U.S.
Ojakli directs the company's philanthropic arm, the Ford Motor Company Fund, which contributes to a broad range of initiatives that support education and assists communities with a variety of needs. He is also chairman of Ford’s Political Action Committee and oversees the grassroots communications effort of Ford employees.
From 2001 – 2004, Ojakli served President George W. Bush as a Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. In this role, he managed daily interactions for the White House with U.S. Senators, assisted in strategy and policy development, and coordinated legislative strategy with the President's Cabinet. From 1995 to 2000, Ojakli served in senior positions in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ojakli is an active board member of numerous organizations, including: the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; the Arab American Museum Advisory Board; Arab American Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS); The Henry Ford Learning Institute; The Jackie Robinson Foundation; the National Civil Rights Museum; The Washington Center for Internships; and serves on the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park Advisory Board.
In 2006, Ojakli was named a delegate to the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders, joining 410 leaders from all regions of the world.
A graduate of Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in American Government, Ojakli, born in June 1967, joined the company in January 2004.
Patricia N. Olson, DVM, PhD, DACT was President and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation from 2005 to 2010 and was Executive Director from 2004 to 2005. Previously, she worked for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., as Director, Training Operations, and then as Director, Canine Health and Training Operations. Her career has also included positions as Veterinary Advisor for the International Air Transport Association, Associate Director of the Center to Study Human and Animal Relationships and Environments (CenSHARE) at the University of Minnesota, and Congressional Science Fellow (American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science) for the U.S. Senate. In addition, she worked for American Humane Association from 1995 to 1998 as Director, Veterinary Affairs and Studies. Her academic degrees include doctor of veterinary medicine and master of science from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate in reproductive physiology and endocrinology from Colorado State University.
Terry Prather is the President of SeaWorld Orlando. Before his position at SeaWorld, Prather was Vice President of Water Country USA in Williamsburg, VA and oversaw the entire Water Country USA operation, from merchandise and culinary operations to water quality and ride management. Prather focused on developing Water Country USA into a nationally recognized brand, enhancing customer service and offering a memorable experience for guests. Prior to Water Country USA, he served as General Manager and Vice President of a theme park in New Orleans and President of another park in Maryland. Mr. Prather began his career with Busch Entertainment in 1986, managing park operations at Water Country USA's sister park, SeaWorld in San Antonio. His background includes more than 20 years of adventure park experience. He was managing director of the Witte Museum in San Antonio for two years. And, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta.
John Ring, (Ex-Officio), President of the FONZ Board, is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. His practice focuses on advising clients in connection with strategic business planning, with a particular emphasis on the negotiation and administration of labor contracts, multi-employer benefit funds, and corporate restructurings. He represents management interests in collective bargaining, employee benefits, litigation, counseling, and litigation avoidance strategies.
Mr. Ring has extensive experience in the negotiation and administration of collective bargaining agreements, most notably the multi-employer agreement in the trucking industry. He has served as a member of the national negotiating team for the National Master Freight Agreement, and he has been involved in other negotiations in a variety of industries. He has represented clients in numerous proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.
In addition, Mr. Ring serves as counsel to several multi-employer benefit funds, and has extensive experience with pension and health and welfare fund administration in the trucking industry. Mr. Ring also has experience in labor and employment litigation, in both federal and state courts and in arbitrations under collective bargaining agreements and private alternative dispute resolution.
Active in community affairs, Mr. Ring serves as pro-bono counsel to the Washington Jesuit Academy, and has been active in supporting the establishment of this tuition-free Jesuit elementary school for low-income boys. He serves on several committees at Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown. Mr. Ring earned his B.A. and J.D. degrees at Catholic University of America. He and his wife, Betsy, live in Bethesda, Maryland, with their three children.
Emanuel ("Manny") Rouvelas engages in a wide-ranging federal counseling and lobbying practice. He advises and represents leading companies and trade associations in the transportation, telecommunications, high technology, hospitality, and manufacturing industries regarding their Washington, D.C. activities and strategies. He has also served as lead government affairs counsel for major companies in transnational acquisitions, mergers, and corporate reorganizations.
He is a recognized authority in ocean shipping law and for three decades has traveled globally to advise the CEOs of many of the world's leading shipping companies. Over the years, his practice has taken him to more than thirty countries, and he often works with the executive branch, Congress, and foreign embassies and governments on international trade and transport matters. He founded the Washington, D.C. office of Preston Gates and guided its growth to more than 140 partners and employees at the time it was merged into K&L Gates on January 1, 2007. He is consistently ranked as one of the country’s top lawyers in both maritime law and in government affairs. In 2008, he was recognized by the Legal Times as a "legal visionary" and one of the "greatest Washington Lawyers of the past 30 years" who helped turn Washington, D.C.’s legal and lobbying community into an international powerhouse. Six times, from 2005-2011 he was named one of the 50 "Top Lobbyist" (out of 12,000) by The Hill newspaper based on surveys of Members of Congress and staff.
Manny has served as an advisor to two U.S. presidential transitions, a bipartisan Congressional Caucus, an executive branch reorganization, several senators and congressmen, and many political campaigns. Prior to joining K&L Gates, he was counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce and chief counsel to its Merchant Marine and Foreign Commerce Subcommittees where he had lead staff responsibility for the enactment of 32 public laws. Included was major legislation relating to vessel construction and operation, oil spill prevention, vessel traffic systems, recreational boat safety, Coast Guard and Maritime Administration programs.
Manny has long been committed to the importance of strong ethical governance in both the public and private sectors and has taught, lectured and counseled clients on governance issues. He completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 1996 and the Program on Corporate Governance for Directors at Stanford Business School in 2006. He has twenty years experience serving on the boards of directors of three U.S. public companies and an additional twenty years of service on the boards of directors of nonprofit charitable organizations. He is a Regent of the American Architectural Foundation; a Director of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the largest regional network of business and nonprofit leaders; and a lifetime Trustee and former Vice-Chairman of the American College of Greece in Athens.
David M. Velazquez is presently Executive Vice President of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI), and leader of its Power Delivery business. PHI is a regional energy holding company that provides utility service to more than 1.9 million customers and the parent company of Potomac Electric Power Company, an electric utility serving Washington, D.C., and suburban Maryland; Delmarva Power, an electric and gas utility serving Delaware and the rest of the Delmarva Peninsula; and Atlantic City Electric, an electric utility serving southern New Jersey.
He joined Delmarva Power, another PHI subsidiary, in 1981 and advanced through a number of management positions in engineering, operations, and planning. Mr. Velazquez most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Conectiv Energy, PHI’s competitive merchant energy subsidiary. He previously served as Vice President of Strategic Planning & Chief Risk Officer of PHI and Vice President, Business Planning for Conectiv Energy. Mr. Velazquez earned his Bachelor of Science in Engineering at Widener University. Mr. Velazquez serves on the Boards of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, and the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.
Beatrice Busch von Gontard is director-at-large for National Wildlife Federation. She exemplifies NWF's goal of connecting people with nature, both at home and in her Virginia community, where she's helping to establish a cross-curriculum program of outdoor education at a local elementary school. Students learn history from colonial farming, mathematical patterns from gardens and genetics from hybrid tulips. The school is also an NWF-certified schoolyard habitat. Busch von Gontard says she "grew up in a zoo"--her family, the Buschs of Anheuser-Busch, created a wildlife preserve at the ancestral home. Fifteen years ago, she and her husband, Adie, bought a farm on the Shenandoah River and went to work turning much of their 1,400 acres into a haven for local wildlife. That meant planting natives and following strict rules about where and how they farm. The von Gontards certified the property as an NWF Backyard Wildlife Habitat™ site and have been rewarded with booming wildlife populations. NWF Chief Naturalist Craig Tufts credits their practice of not mowing nesting pasture until young birds have fledged with helping to reverse the decline of bobolinks in the region. "Their birds," says Tufts, "likely represent the largest breeding population in Virginia--a population that is growing with Beatrice's careful stewardship."